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And so begins the long road to Milan

THE WHIRLWIND OF extravagant culinary events, tense culinary competition and career-fuelling publicity that comes with the biennial international finals of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition in Milan are still a year-and-a-half away. But the long road to get there starts now.

Any young chef of talent can and should apply to SPYCA now, as long as they are 30 or under, and fit for a challenge. All that’s required is to submit a signature recipe of irrefutable quality. As the last round of competition — and especially the finals — made abundantly clear, it’s not enough that this looks beautiful and tastes great. It should display creativity, vision, a highly impressive set of skills and, above and beyond all that, it must tell a compelling personal story — something that the competitor is prepared to explain to the rather fearsome panel of culinary luminaries that S.Pellegrino brings together to judge the finals (last year, it included the likes of Hélène Darroze, Pia León and Nancy Silverton).

All applications will be evaluated by ALMA, the international school of Italian culinary arts. Their recommended applicants compete in Toronto, with a winner decided in October. Judging the Canadian competition will fall to three eminent Canadian chefs — Normand Laprise (Toqué!), Jason Bangerter (Langdon Hall) and Nuit Regular (Pai Northern Thai, Kiin, etc.). The winner of the Canadian runoff can then choose one of the three judges to serve as a culinary mentor, helping the winner to hone (but not reinvent) that signature dish, and finesse every part of it until it is ready for the spotlight at the eventual high-stakes international showdown in Milan, in the fall of 2025.“I always encourage young cooks to compete – it develops skills,” says Bangerter. Don’t wait — apply now.

*Deadline to apply is June 19, 2024.


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